Being Useful: The meaning of Life


To live a Life of meaning, we first have to understand the meaning of Life!


Life’s meaning cannot be understood when we are nailed down by negative, debilitating emotions like doubt, anger, jealousy, sorrow and fear. It cannot be understood too when we are held hostage by our ego. It can only be understood when we let go of what cripples us, what worries us and what scares us. Only when we practice detachment__from what holds us and what we hold on to__can we find meaning in Life.


Thanks to our conditioning and to our upbringing __ where we are encouraged to start running a race, as soon as we begin to make sense of our world, and are taught that Life’s meaning is to come first, to win, to acquire, to accumulate, to conquer. In this context, by always wanting to win, we don’t realize we have to willy-nilly ‘vanquish’ or ‘deny’ others the opportunity to win. Or when we try but when we don’t win, we end up feeling depressed and despondent. This is when we start searching for meaning in Life. We sometimes seek meaning also when we discover that despite all the winning, all the conquest, all the accumulation, we are still missing something __ the essence of Life, of simply being happy.

In Viktor Frankl’s 1946 epic book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ __ chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II __ he concludes that, as time passed and as he looked back at all that he had been through, the gut-wrenching experience he had in the camp was nothing but a “remembered nightmare”. Even his desire to kill his tormentor was now gone. He awakens to his Life’s meaning which is “to help others find theirs”.

In summary, the meaning of Life, as I have discovered it__and I am still learning__is to be useful than merely wanting to be successful. It is not that wanting to be or being successful is wrong. But the pursuit of success often blinds us and takes us in the direction of being successful at the cost of others. Whereas, being useful, is what true success is all about. Being useful is the meaning of Life.


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